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Anorexia nervosa - Diagnosis

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The distinction between the diagnoses of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified (ED-NOS) is often difficult to make in practice and there is considerable overlap between patients diagnosed with these conditions. Furthermore, seemingly minor changes in a patient's overall behaviour or attitude (such as reported feeling of 'control' over any bingeing behaviour) can change a diagnosis from 'anorexia: binge-eating type' to bulimia nervosa. It is not unusual for a person with an eating disorder to 'move through' various diagnosis as their behaviour and beliefs change over time.

Additionally, it is important to note that an individual may still suffer from a health- or life-threatening eating disorder (e.g., subclinical anorexia nervosa or ED-NOS: eating disorder, not otherwise specified) even if one diagnostic signs or symptoms is still present. For example, a substantial number of patients diagnosed with ED-NOS meet all criteria for diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, but lack the three consecutive missed menstrual cycles needed for a diagnosis of anorexia.

Feminist writers, such as Susie Orbach and Naomi Wolf have criticised the medicalisation of extreme dieting and weight-loss as locating the problem within the affected women, rather than in a society that imposes concepts of unreasonable and unhealthy thinness as a measure of female beauty.

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